December 7, 2021

The Heard Citizen’s Top 18 Good News Stories of 2018

(Franklin) — With the arrival of the year 2019, the Heard Citizen takes a look back at the best good news stories we reported on locally during the year 2018.

This list was comprised based on several factors including number of views, comments, and shares not only at our website but also on our facebook page.

We hope our readers enjoy this look back and we at look forward to covering the best good news stories of 2019 in the coming months. You may click on the links provided to read more about each story as it was originally posted.

Happy New Year to all of our loyal readers and sponsors! Thank you all for another great year of good news in Heard County!

Top 18 Good News Stories of 2018

#1   First State Football Title: Brave Nation Rocks the Benz

Remarkably topping this list for the second consecutive year is the HCHS varsity football team. An immense legion of Heard County fans filed into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 12 in hopes of seeing the Braves capture the first ever state championship in the 47-year history of the football program.The group would not leave disappointed as Coach Tim Barron’s squad battered and bruised the Class AA rival Rockmart Yellow Jackets by a final score of 27-6. The Braves never trailed in the contest controlling the title game from start to finish as the Heard fans in attendance and those watching at home went wild. The Braves scored 27 unanswered to and the staunch defense continued to lead the way all but shutting out a Rockmart team 45.8 points per game coming in. The history-making win was marked by the term ‘redemption’ following the Braves’ 33-0 loss at ‘The Rock’ in a game shortened by the weather after only one half on September 7. The community will further celebrate the accomplishment next Wednesday, January 9 with a parade through downtown Franklin at 6:00 PM.

#2   Student Body Right: Jessica Kirkpatrick Voted Queen

Jessica Kirkpatrick may be a little different from her classmates, but that didn’t keep her from receiving the royal treatment during Heard High’s Homecoming Week in September. After being nominated and then selected by her classmates to be a part of Heard County High School’s Homecoming Court, the senior ended her special week with a bang after she was voted as the school’s 2018 Homecoming Queen. Jessica has Autism, a genetic condition that can cause a range of developmental problems affecting communication and social interaction. She has struggled socially at times during her school years and was even homeschooled for one year during middle school before returning to HCMS in the 8th grade. Jessica has made great strides during her time at Heard High School thanks primarily to a large group of accepting classmates, faculty members, and other staff who are some of her biggest fans and supporters.

#3   National Softball Champions in Heard County

Following a grueling, intense and stressful week of softball at the NCAA Women’s College World Series in June, former Lady Braves Cali Harrod and Anna Shelnutt achieved a dream they have both been chasing since childhood when the Florida State Seminoles captured a National Championship with a second win over the Washington Huskies in as many days at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. It was yet another home run in the bottom of the first from Anna Shelnutt that fueled yet another comeback win from a team that faced elimination six times during the postseason including four just on Saturday and Sunday. The National Championship was not only a first for Cali and Anna but a first for the Seminoles and the entire ACC Conference in a sport that has been dominated almost exclusively by PAC-12 teams since the inception of the event in 1982. A 3-run, walk-off home run by Shelnutt also earned a 5-4 victory over Pitt (33-18-1) to win the 2018 ACC Championship at Georgia Tech in May.

#4   In God We Trust: Durell’s Story

Mr. Durell Langley, a Vietnam veteran, began showing the early signs of liver troubles that became extensively worse in 2010. Doctors noted severe cirrhosis of the liver in Durell when he was having his gallbladder removed. The condition was unusual as he had never been a heavy drinker. Durell believed his problems came about due to his exposure to the “Agent Orange” chemical while serving as an Infantry Soldier but says the Veteran’s Administration has yet to recognize the chemical as the cause of his liver failure. The father of three and grandfather to seven faced some very difficult days leading up to finally receiving the transplant in the summer of 2016. To celebrate his recovery, Durell went on individual vacations with several of his grandchildren and he says the time with his grandchildren was truly priceless. The veteran believes that a strong faith in God helped him to receive this miracle and his story is one of several featured in the book “Sharing Miracles” published by local author Rebecca S. Carlisle last year.

#5   Football Fans Say I Do at Staples Stadium

When it comes to couples who share football fandom, sometimes the love between them is as important as their love of the game. For Heard County Brave fans Charles Israel and Tricia Shepherd, it was a no-brainer to include their favorite football venue, Staples Stadium in their wedding day. The couple, now Mr. and Mrs. Charles Israel, says their mutual love for the Heard County team has been a big part of their relationship since meeting several years ago on a Christian dating website, so they decided to show off their fanaticism in a major way. Naturally, the couple chose a football-themed wedding for their July 7 nuptials and eventually saw their favorite team win a state title.

#6   Woman Reunited With Lost Ring After 50 Years

A 1968 graduate of Heard County High School had almost forgotten about her senior class ring after not seeing it for almost 50 years until a good samaritan and social media helped her reunite with the priceless lost memento in August. As it turns out, Susan Jacks (maiden name Crockett) had lost the ring while playing in a softball tournament in Dalton, GA in 1969 and the ring was found by someone with no idea of who it might belong to. A carpet mill employee softball player from the area named Marvin L. Reed found the ring at the fields and held on to it until his passing about 13 years ago. His wife of 50 plus years, Mrs. Judy Reed, reached out to Heard High Principal Brent Tisdale via the school’s facebook page and was able locating Susan and return the ring.

#7   Hoochie Bear Spotted in Franklin

A local convenience store captured footage early one Saturday morning in the spring of a black bear near the Chattahoochee River in Franklin. The assistant manager at the Flash Foods said that a third shift employee saw the bear as well. Director of Heard County animal control, Brad Ogle, says although rare, bears do pass through the area from time to time especially in the spring. The store captured footage of the animal near the gas pumps.

#8   Championship Year in HCMS Sports

2018 was one of the best ever sports years for Heard County Middle School as they claimed Championships in softball, baseball, wrestling and boys basketball. The Heard County Middle School Lady Braves softball team claimed a second straight division title by outlasting three other teams in an impromptu one day tournament at HCMS in Franklin during October. The HCMS baseball team secured the first small school baseball championship in school history during the recent West Georgia Small Middle School division finals. The squad won both home playoff games in convincing fashion following an 8-5 regular season record. The Heard County Middle School boys basketball team outlasted rival Bowdon winning 43-39 to claim a second straight West Georgia Middle School Championship. Just recently, the HCMS wrestling team captured both the West Georgia small school dual title and the overall traditional championships held in Carroll County. The squad dominated opponents for the entirety of the regular season under new coach Drew Garner while facing some of the best wrestling programs in the area and the title matches were no different.

#9   James Stewart Chapter Honors World War II Veteran

Members of the James Stewart Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution welcomed the family and friends of Mr. Thomas Darden Lipford who joined them at the Heard County Library on Saturday, September 12, 2015 to honor Mr. Lipford for his outstanding service to community and country. Mr. Lipford received a NSDAR Community Service Award for his service to Heard County and a Certificate of Appreciation for Military Service. He is one of the few remaining World War II Veterans here in Heard County.

#10  Schools Add First Resource Officer

Students and faculty in the Heard County school system witnessed a new presence in the hallways with the first semester of the 2018-2019 school year. Heard County Schools, working in conjunction with the Heard County Sheriff’s Department, for the first time employed an armed School Resource Officer — long-time Heard County Sheriff’s Deputy Cain Dean. School Resource Officers are specifically selected and trained to promote safety in schools. Protecting students and staff from threats of violence is the primary role of an SRO.

#11  Quick-Thinking Boy

A young boy with a family background in law enforcement was lauded by friends and family in January of 2018 after his quick thinking and calm demeanor helped get his grandfather to safety after a fall. 8-year-old second grader Grant Chaffin and his “Poppa” Kirk King were on a squirrel hunting excursion in the woods behind King’s Pine Mountain home recently when the fall happened. King managed to get his phone out of his pocket and the clever 8-year-old Grant dried it off, unlocked it, and called his great-grandfather. He then pulled his Poppa up onto his feet and lead him about two miles back to safety while constantly checking on him and making sure he was ok. King was taken to a local hospital and kept overnight for observation and made a full recovery.

#12  Levi Brown a soaring success at Marshall

Levi Brown, a redshirt junior and the Marshall University’s starting football center for the last two years, has been an ideal fit on the Herd’s offensive line and one of the most durable players on the team. The former Brave and 2015 HCHS graduate has been named to the ‘Rimington Trophy’ watch list for two seasons. The Dave Rimington Trophy is awarded to the player considered to be the best center in college football. The 6-4, 296 pound Brown is ranked as the No. 14 center in the 2019 NFL Draft projections by along with centers from larger schools such as Stanford, Texas, Ohio State, and Alabama.

#13  Alford Field recognized with National Award

The 2018-19 ABCA/Turface Athletics Field Maintenance Award and Scholarships were announced in both the college and high school divisions in November and Alford Field on the campus of Heard County High School was named as a national honoree. Brave head baseball coach and primary caretaker to the field Trent Bianco says the award is a tremendous honor and signifies many hours of hard work from both coaches and players. Coach Bianco will accept the award this Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 at the 75th annual ABCA Convention in Dallas, TX.

#14  Two Big Achievements from Thomas “Red” Keith

Former Brave and HCHS graduate Thomas “Red” Keith achieved not one but two huge honors in 2018. The Carrollton High School Teacher had just finished giving a pep talk during a student assembly last spring in the Mabry Center for the Arts as motivation for end-of-the-year testing when he suddenly was the one being pumped up by the surprise announcement he had been selected as one of 10 teachers in the U.S to be named a “2018 LifeChanger of the Year” award winner. Later on in the year during October, Keith was one of six individuals inducted into the 2018 Hall of Fame Class at Central Michigan University. Keith was a standout linebacker for the Chippewas and the most successful college football player to hail from Franklin, GA. According to CMU’s Hall of Fame announcement in July, Keith was the ‘linchpin’ of Central Michigan defenses, helping to lead the Chippewas to Mid-American Conference championships in 2006 and in ’07.

#15  First Lady Reads to Local Children

Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal spent time this fall visiting with and reading to Heard County Pre-K students at all three elementary schools. Mrs. Deal stressed the importance of reading to the young students. She is the driving force behind the “Read Across Georgia” campaign and launched the initiative in support of Governor Deal’s goal of increasing the number of children reading at grade level by the time they finish 3rd grade.

#16  Hornsby’s 200th Win 

Heard County Lady Braves softball coach Matt Hornsby earned his 200th win as head coach earlier this season when the Lady Braves knocked off Jordan 15-0 at Heard High on September 5. The Lady Braves coach wasn’t even aware of the milestone until his girls asked for a game ball prior to a game so they could autograph it as a memento for him. It was actually assistant softball coach and head baseball coach Trent Bianco who first realized Hornsby was near the milestone.

#17  Taylor Bailey leads local artists at Hummingbird Festival

During the fall, HCMS’s Taylor Bailey took top prize for her pencil drawing ‘Double Vision.’ Heard County High School winners included Avery Barnes (2nd Place), Ray Ann Langley (3rd Place), Lyndsey Pike (Honorable Mention), and Kari Griffith (Honorable Mention). Heard County Middle School winners included Bailey (1st Place), Trystan Rowell (3rd Place), and Laila Schwartz (Honorable Mention). The Hogansville Hummingbird Festival is an outdoor Festival held in historic small town Hogansville. The Hummingbird Festival is a true small town festival, featuring 200 vendors, food court, live music, kids area, artisan crafts, and more.

#18  Baby Brave Program Grows Stronger

In its third year, the Heard County School System’s Baby Brave program continues to be a great success. The number of Baby Braves continued to grow in 2018 as did the excitement of the program. One of the most successful parts of the program have been the “Class Reunions” and 2018 was no exception with record-breaking attendance at several of the quarterly events. The Class Reunions are held in community parks and at the various schools. The program has been a great success and received regional and state notoriety.

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